Spending Less When Shopping Online, Best Strategy
Online shopping provides a nearly magical level of convenience. Simply take out your phone, press a few buttons, and a package will be delivered to your door in a matter of days (or hours). However, it is all too easy to rack up a credit card bill that is larger than the stack of cardboard boxes in the recycling bin.
You are not alone if you believe you are spending more money online. Americans are expected to spend a record $1 trillion online in 2022, not just due to pandemic habits. Online inflation (increased prices for the same goods) accounted for $22 billion in online spending in 2021.
Even so, we may believe that the best deals are found online. After all, in the early days of dynamic pricing-retail sites matching competitors' prices or making frequent price changes based on demand-lower prices were achieved. 2 However, price fluctuations can now harm buyers. Prices are simply numbers that we no longer "know" (except for maybe a gallon of gas). While grocery shoppers 15 years ago probably knew a gallon of milk should cost around $2.50, many of us today have no idea how much our regular purchases should cost. Furthermore, after two years of online inflation, we are more likely to accept the price that appears-even if it is higher than expected-and pay anyway. For example, in May 2022, Americans spent $1 billion more online than the previous month.
10 tips to Spending Less When Shopping Online
Check out these 10 tips to learn how to shop online without blowing your budget.
- Treat your credit card as if it were real money because it is. Buying things can make us happy, and using a credit card can make us even happier, thanks to the dopamine rush our brains experience when we pay for something. Buying online increases the sense of distance from the purchase, giving the impression that you are not spending "real money." To keep yourself on track, set a weekly reminder to check your credit balance or, better yet, transfer funds to pay it off. This teaches your brain to treat it more like cold, hard cash while still earning points. Paying off your balance will not harm your credit score and may even protect it by keeping your credit utilization low.
- Make good use of a (free) coupon browser extension. You can add a browser extension that searches for promo codes or discounts on the items you're looking for. These extensions, unlike other pop-ups, only apply to what you're already looking at. That alone can help you save money. That's because the "buy more, save more" mentality-think: free shipping on orders over $50 or 20% off $100, 30% off $150-often leads to overspending. If you don't need something (or if it's out of your price range), don't let a coupon or a buy-more discount persuade you otherwise. Be especially cautious of click-to-apply coupons, which have been shown to increase your sense of reward and thus encourage you to buy more.
- Unsubscribe from mailing lists that send you advertisements. You gave us your email address to get that sweet 10% off your first purchase, and now you get daily reminders to check back in and see what's new. Even if you delete the majority of files without opening them, the few times your curiosity gets the best of you can cost you. The next time you open an email like that, click the unsubscribe link, which is usually at the bottom of the message. When something is out of sight, it is out of mind. You are already bombarded with advertisements, so saving yourself from having to resist is a wise financial move in and of itself.
- Understand the best time to buy, especially for large purchases. If you want to buy new furniture or appliances, try to wait until the next holiday weekend. On your days off, retailers work extra hard, offering steep discounts on President's Day, the Fourth of July, and Labor Day. If your patio chairs are on their last legs, see if you can make it until autumn. You can get great deals on outdoor gear, furniture, and clothing during end-of-season and off-season sales.
- Consider purchasing used. You don't have to spend an entire afternoon rummaging through thrift store racks to get a good deal (sorry, Macklemore). Major retailers are buying back their brands' clothing and other items from previous purchasers and reselling them at a lower price to people looking to buy used goods. The stores attract thrifty, environmentally conscious customers, and previously higher-priced goods become more affordable.
- Maintain your focus on your requirements. Online sellers want you to pay before you have a chance to think about it, so they make the process as easy and enjoyable as possible with beautiful graphics, flashy sale banners, and one-click-to-buy features. Just as you would go into a store with a list in hand to avoid browsing, keep a visual reminder of what you intend to buy nearby-try a sticky note on your computer or phone. Remember to H.A.L.T.: Don't buy something if you're hungry, angry, lonely, or tired to avoid making impulse purchases you'll regret later.
- Before you buy, compare prices. Online shopping has eliminated "menu costs," or paying to change prices physically, as restaurants do when they need to reprint updated menus. Even if prices fluctuate and don't stick in your head, you can still trust your instincts if a price seems out of line. Enter the item into your search engine to see if there is a better deal somewhere else, so you know you're paying the least amount possible.
- Wait if you don't need it right away. Online sellers will use countdown clocks, timed carts, and warnings of limited availability to increase urgency (some true, others maybe not). However, if you are logged in to a website and add something to your cart without checking out, the store may send you an email with a discount to encourage you to complete your purchase. If they don't and you forget, you probably didn't need the item in the first place.
- Avoid the "buy now, pay later" mentality. What's not to love about point-of-sale loans that allow you to pay in four installments with only a quarter of the cost upfront? Interest rates of up to 30% as well as fees of up to 25% of the original price That's what happens if you miss a payment. Unfortunately, even if the first payment seemed easy, you may underestimate your ability to make the subsequent ones.
- To avoid high fees, buy groceries in person. Grocery delivery may appear to be a wise choice because you will not be tempted to add unnecessary items to your cart as you walk through the aisles. However, grocery-delivery apps and services mark up many items and charge a delivery fee. When you factor in a tip for your shopper or driver, your final bill could be 50% higher than the actual cost of the groceries.
The advantages and disadvantages of Online Shopping
Advantages of Online Shopping
A wider range of options
Information is easily accessible.
Note :Online retailers also frequently offer membership options, typically via email or newsletters, that allow customers to get first dibs on sales, seasonal releases, and other events. This way, you can be among the first to learn about new products from your favorite brands.
Disadvantages of Online Shopping
Online shopping can have its drawbacks, such as hidden price markups, an increased risk of fraud, and the inability to use or wear the item you purchased right away.
It Could Be More Expensive
Online purchases can be more expensive for a variety of reasons. Even though many major online retailers offer free shipping, they usually have a minimum purchase requirement. Furthermore, online retailers may employ a variety of strategies to persuade you to purchase more or more expensive items than you would if you were shopping in person.
You may also be required to pay an internet sales tax depending on where you live. In Texas, for example, out-of-state purchases delivered to Texas or purchases made from online-only sellers may be subject to a tax.
Note : Many online retailers use digital tactics to persuade customers to make additional purchases, which are frequently considered impulse purchases. Some examples include "limited time" sale pop-ups that reset every time a user reloads the page, phony customer testimonials, and messages that promote more expensive items.
Increases the likelihood of fraud
Unfortunately, there are online shopping scams. According to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), as of February 2022, online shopping was the fourth most common fraud category for consumers. 5 Scammers may pose as legitimate online sellers with fake websites or create fake ads on legitimate sites.
Pay with a credit card instead of a debit card because you can easily report fraud to your credit card company. It is also best to avoid online sellers who only accept money transfers, gift cards, or cryptocurrency as payment. Scammers may encourage you to use these methods of payment so that they can get your money faster.
This results in longer wait times.
When you shop in a physical store, you can walk away with the product you purchased and use or wear it right away. When you shop online, you may have to wait days, weeks, or even months for your order to arrive. If you're in a hurry and need a product right away, such as a gift, going to a physical store may be a better option.
Questions and Answers (FAQs)
How do you reclaim money from an online purchase?
This process differs depending on the retailer. When you report a problem with your purchase, some companies will automatically refund your money; others may require you to return the product first. You may not be able to get your money back at all, especially if the return window has passed. Check the retailer's refund policy before purchasing something that might not work for you, such as clothing.
What impact has the internet had on shopping?
The internet has transformed the shopping experience. People now have access to products from all over the world. Payments are instant, and recommendations are based on your previous purchases and browsing habits. Retailers have been forced to respond by launching websites and improving their in-store customer experience.
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